Aussie Motorsport Classic: The Channel 9 Camaro

October 3, 1982. Reid Park, Mount Panorama, Bathurst. Lap 27. Kevin Bartlett. Camaro. A time, location and car that are forever etched into Australian motorsport history.

KB is up with the leaders in the famous Bathurst 1000 when one of a batch of fourteen wheels the team had bought for the Camaro fails. It’s the rear left. Instantly, the tyre deflates, pitching the Channel 9 branded car’s rear into the concrete safety wall. The left front bounces off as the nose swings around and it’s just on a right hand curve on an uphill run.

Unsettled, there’s momentum enough to cause the Camaro to roll over to the right, landing on its roof. The car skids to the other side of the track and quickly a trackside official is there to assist a shaken Bartlett out of the inverted Camaro. He’s ok, points at the clearly ruined wheel and tyre, and walks into the crowd.

In context, it was a miracle that Bartlett and the Channel 9 sponsored car were in the race at all. In practice just a couple of days before, co-driver Colin Bond was at the wheel when a ball joint nut on the front left wishbone came adrift. The front left suspension collapsed and flung the corner into the wall. The location? Almost exactly where the wheel would fail two days later.

As KB says: “it was a miracle that my crew and the TAFE smash repair team had it back together in time for qualifying.” However, there’s more to the story in getting the car on track in the first place.

Bartlett bought the car, a brand new 1978 built machine, from an American dealership and imported the car into Australia. The intent was to race it in what was then the Group C regulations. Once the car landed, Bartlett says, a lot of work was needed to get the car down to the weight as stipulated. The leaf spring suspension was replaced with fibreglass units, super strong Kevlar for the front guards and spoilers, but CAMS insisted that the car use drum brakes at the rear, instead of the optional disc brakes.

In case you’re wondering why the car looks different to a 1978 model, it’s because CAMS also said the car had to run with bodywork from the ’74 to ’77 models. Bartlett still shakes his head in disbelief. But there was a hidden benefit as it turned out. The earlier bumpers were aluminium, not steel…

Is the Channel 9 Camaro your favourite Aussie Motorsport classic? Or maybe you're a GTHO or Torana sort of person? Head over to the Rare Spares Facebook page and tell us about your favourite cars to hit the Australian motorsport scene!

GT Forever

24. July 2014 16:20 by Rare Spares in Rare Spares  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

Earlier this year, Ford, Holden and Toyota all announced their withdrawal from Australian Manufacturing over the next 3-4 years. This was a deep cut to Australia’s proud heritage of producing world class vehicles and an industry we were proud of.  With this realisation, Ford announced it would also retire the ‘GT’ designation, signalling an end to a famous badge that portrays performance and an incredible motorsport heritage for Ford lovers.

What are your first thoughts when you hear someone say “Falcon GT”. Racing pedigree, XY GHTO Phase 3, Allan Moffat and Bathurst are just some of the terms that come to mind and it is sad to hear that this iconic Australian title will soon be no more. 

GT’s have been part of Ford Australia’s Heritage since 1967 when GT became the badge given to the performance variants of the Falcon range. Starting with the XR Falcon, the GT designation continued with the XT, the XW, XY, XA and XB model’s. The XW and XY model’s also saw the ‘HO’ designation added, which stood for 'Handling Options' and is synonymous with the XY GTHO Falcon’s that are so commonly mentioned when discussion turns to famous Ford’s.

The GT badge was rested for 16 years before being revived for a 25th anniversary edition, used with the 1992 EB Falcon. In 1997 the 30th anniversary edition was offered for the EL Falcon. As of 2003 Ford Performance Vehicles inherited the badge and have used the GT designation throughout the BA, BF and FG model ranges.

The last Ford Falcon to carry the GT badge will be the 2014 Ford Falcon GT-F, which pays homage to its famous forebears and will carry the famous 351 badge signifying the engine’s power output of 351kw’s. The GT-F will also be the most powerful Falcon ever produced at Broadmeadows.   The ‘F’ designation will represent ‘Final’ version of the GT. 500 vehicles will be sold total, with 500 allocated for Australia and the other 50 heading to New Zealand.  

“This is a celebration of the best of the best,” said President and CEO of Ford Motor Company Australia Bob Graziano.

All 500 of the GT-F’s have been ‘accounted for’ due to the interest of the Ford Faithful and will all be sold at recommended retail pricing according to one Ford dealer, as the interest in obtaining one of these vehicles is so high.

Although sad that GT is no longer, we are sure the memories and the success around GT will live on forever with the Ford Faithful."